Why The Coal Bunker in Belvoir Road is so much more than a Coalville town centre cafe
By Graham Hill
4th Aug 2022 | Local News
The Coal Bunker may be a fresh addition to Coalville's town centre - but the Belvoir Road cafe is also home to around 11 small businesses.
Owner Nicki Worthington opened the premises in January after she sold her house to raise the necessary funds.
Nicki previously worked at the former Coalville market - and that gave her the idea of using her cafe to help other people get their businesses off the ground.
When she started the Coal Bunker, Nicki realised she had excess space which she would not necessarily be needing to run the cafe.
So she now lets out rooms and cabinets to business people in the area so they can operate with little by way of risk.
Nicki charges a modest rent and hopes the people who occupy the same space as her can flourish.
They might outgrow the building and move to a larger one.
But if things do not work out, they can leave as they are not tied down to an expensive contract.
Coalville is looking to the future with a number of developments currently in the pipeline.
But Nicki says that, for smaller operators, her model provides a way for businesses to get up and running.
She said: "If landlords would allow dual tenancies, it's a way to fill units, some people can't afford £1,000 a month rent,
"But if there's four of them in there, they can afford the £250.
"As they get bigger, they move into another unit with someone else and maybe pay £500 a month.
"Gradually everything gets bigger. Plus, it's important to have interaction with people.
"Trading on the Internet is not the way forward in my eyes.
"The Idea came from working at the market.
"There's a community feel you get with market space. It's what I wanted to try and create here, and it does, everybody feels very comfortable.
"It also works so that we benefit from each other's custom.
"Most of our products are locally sourced
"But we also have people like Ted's Eggs off the market. He's retired, but he brings his eggs in here, and I sell them for him.
"We also have the Honeybee at Ellistown, we sell their honey.
"A local artist also sells his paintings from here.
"So, as well as 11 businesses. based here, there's also the side of my business where we sell products from outside.
"Wherever we can we try and build a local economy. that's my way forward.
"It causes a knock-on effect if we all keep it local.
"To me, that's what it's all about. I think Coalville is on the way up now.
"The development Gylo want to start here in Belvoir Road is amazing. I'm all for it."
The Coal Bunker provides a traditional menu for local people.
But diners might also visit KJ's, which sells vaping products and puzzle books, or Sweetie Ville, for a bag of sweets.
Another unit sells men's and women's clothes.
There are four large units towards the rear of the cafe.
Nicki, who is also chair, and founder member, of the community group Coalville CAN, whose premises also offers office space to local businesses.
She added: "It's about giving people the chance to set up in business and rebuilding the high street.
"These places might get too big for in here. But it makes it affordable, they only pay me a small rent.
"There were offices here, and I didn't see the point of putting chairs and tables in there.
"The businesses here set up Facebook pages to let people know they're here, there could be 11 businesses operating from one place.
"We've always got businesses wanting to come in and use the cabinets.
"Anyone can have a go, because we're not tied to anything.
"If things aren't working out for them, they can leave."
The building has a fresh, modern feel to it.
Nicki added: "I designed all of this, when I came in and took it over.
"I opened up here on January 29. We left the old market in September, but we had to work through Covid to set things like this up.
"You wouldn't believe the difference between now and when we opened.
"I had the market cafe, so I sort of had an idea about designing this one.
"I have a landlord, Craig Large, and I can't praise him highly enough. He's been amazing.
"The first six months have been fabulous, I could not have asked for better support from the locals.
"It's such an amazing community here.
"As well as that, we're serving up traditional food for the people of Coalville, including chips, and not everybody does them."